Composed by a premier scholar of African literature, this volume is a comprehensive guide to the literary traditions of Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, and Nigeria, five distinct countries bound by their experience with colonialism. Oyekan Owomoyela begins with an overview of the authors, texts, and historical events that have shaped the development of postwar Anglophone literatures in this region, exploring shifts in theme and the role of foreign sponsorship and illuminating recent debates regarding the language, identity, gender, and social commitments of various authors and their works. His introduction concludes with a bibliography of key critical texts. The second half of the volume is an alphabetical tour of writers, publications, concepts, genres, movements, and institutions, with suggested readings for further research. Entries focus primarily on fiction but also touch on drama and poetry. Featured authors include Chris Abani, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Cyprian Ekwensi, Uzodinma Chukuka Iweala, Helen Oyeyemi, and Wole Soyinka.
Topics range from the European origins of African literature and the West African diaspora to the development of an "African personality," the establishment of a regional publishing industry, and the global literary marketplace. Owomoyela also discusses such influences as the postwar emergence of Onitsha Market Literature, the Mbari Club, and the importance of the Noma Award. Owomoyela's portrait points to the major impact of West African literature on the evolution of both African and world literatures in English. Sure to become the definitive text for research in the field, The Columbia Guide to West African Literature in English Since 1945 is a vital resource for newcomers as well as for advanced scholars seeking a deeper understanding of the region's rich literary heritage.
Oyekan Owomoyela (1938-2007) was Ryan Professor of African Literature and coordinator of African American and African Studies at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. A leading collector and scholar of the proverbs of the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria, Owomoyela was the author of Yoruba Proverbs and Yoruba Trickster Tales, as well as the acclaimed A History of Twentieth-Century African Literatures.